Friday, December 31, 2010

A Christmas Village

     They say it takes a village to raise a child...and I agree.  One reason I have really enjoyed the holiday season is the time I've been able to spend with my "village".  It has been especially been wonderful as Carter has continued to struggle with his reflux.  I love holding Carter, and I even love being the one who can soothe him when his tummy hurts.  It has been nice to have other willing arms to hold, rock, and soothe our sweet baby for naps, bedtime, and just sweet cuddles.  Carter has been taking Zantac at the dosage prescribed based on his weight at his two month visit.  He will go back to the pediatrician for his four month visit next Wednesday when we will reevaluate and decide where to go from here.  Things have improved after a little over a week on the Zantac, but I can tell he is still not feeling well.  I am hoping that a little more Zantac will be all he needs to feel better.  There is nothing as sad as knowing that Carter doesn't feel well and not being able to do anything about it!
     On a happier note, we have had a wonderful holiday season.  We got to go to Alabama for a weekend.  That's right, a weekend.  Waaaaaaay too fast, but such a sweet time.  Carter got to meet more of the Carter family:


(I love the shirt Grandma got just for us!)

and got to cuddle with Pa and the extremely special tree that was put up JUST for him:

(If grandchildren are special, great-grandchildren are just unbelievable...Carter is one blessed baby!  Pa spent hours and hours getting lights off this tree, replacing bulbs, and putting lights back on the tree...just for the sweet smile on Carter's face while he stared at the lights.  Just one example of how loved sweet Carter is.)


Carter also got to meet some of our most precious friends in the world.  Mr. James and Mrs. Dorothy held my Daddy when HE was a little one.  They've known my grandparents (both sets) longer than I have.  I was so, so glad for them to meet Carter!

When we got home from Alabama, Kyle was here!  He came to visit over his Christmas break (remember when he came last summer?)  We had so much fun playing with Carter together!




Carter loved Kyle...a lot.  Especially his fingers.  And I think Kyle was pretty partial to Carter if I know him as well as I think I do.  And I do. :)

It was so much fun to get to catch up with my dear friend...and it was good for Steven and Kyle to get to hang out as well while Kyle and Carter got to know each other.  What a blessing lifelong friends are.

While Kyle was here, we got to celebrate Daddy's birthday and Christmas with Mama, Daddy, Travis and Susanna.  We were so blessed by sweet, sweet presents and precious time together.


 Precious family time

 Baby boy Hancock is growing!

Our family spoils us!

 Opening presents with Grandaddy and Uncle Travis.

 Yay!  My handyman is further enabled!

What a cool train from Uncle Travis and Aunt Susanna!

Carter playing in his super cool exersaucer from Grandmama and Grandaddy....daring that frog to blink! :)

Kyle went home on Christmas Eve and we headed to Spartanburg to spend some time with the Castillos and then back to Greenville to go to a Christmas Eve service with Mama and Daddy.  Then Carter had a total, complete meltdown and he went to bed.  His little tummy hurt and then he just wore himself out....creating a meltdown worthy of forgoing the storytime and cookies for Santa that I was so excited about.  Oh well...I get the feeling that he's not going to look by and resent me for it.  I'm going to be okay with that!

On Christmas morning, Carter woke up in the very same pajamas I woke up in 24 Christmas mornings ago:


and Grandmama and Grandaddy were there to see what Santa brought:


Grandaddy and Carter are working on matching their smirks...they're getting ridiculously good.

 Carter seems very excited about his big boy carseat that Santa brought....he'll be even more excited in several months when he can use it I'm sure :)

 Checking out his stocking!

Opening presents with Mama!

Playing with one of his new toys with Daddy!

After a cinnamon roll breakfast, we packed up and head to Abuelo and Abuelita's to see Aunt Gabby, Uncle Rique and Aunt Sarah.  We got to open even more presents, eat way too many tamales and other treats, and watched Christmas movies!  Aaaaand it started snowing!  Carter got a white Christmas on his very first Christmas!

 They love each other so much!

 Kisses from Abuelita!

 It's snowing!

 Aunt Sarah and Carter make each other smile.

 Thank you so much for my precious book and slippers Aunt Sarah and Uncle Rique...I love them!

 Aunt Sarah made Carter a PRECIOUS book with his nighttime prayer and pictures of his whole family.  He LOVES it so much!

 Opening a precious present from Abuelo and Abuelita that will entertain Carter for hours in the car!

 Uncle Rique making Carter laugh!

Carter's first, white Christmas!

Whew!  So many pictures....but if you still haven't had enough....you can see more here!  You know what the collection of pictures should be called?  "Look how much Steven, Teri Lee and Carter are loved."  Not very catchy, but super accurate!

So after all that excitement...we headed to a week of bliss in Hilton Head with the Hancocks on the day after Christmas.  What a restful time...Carter got so many cuddles with his aunt, uncle, and grandparents, yours truly got SO much rest, and we all had so much fun riding bicycles, playing golf and tennis, running, walking on the beach, watching movies, cookies, EATING, and just hanging out together.  Can I just say that I have the best parents ever?  Not only do they hold Carter when he is sweet and cuddly, but they also take him when he his screaming his face off to rock him to sleep, even when everyone else is together in the living room.  They take him to change his stinky, stinky diapers.  They hold him when we are all eating and he has had enough of his Bumbo.  Mama and Daddy truly love Carter...but they also truly love Steven and I with a sacrificial love that serves.  I hope I'm a mama that serves my children the way my parents have taught me.  They show the love of Jesus in the way they love their children and grandchildren.  We are so blessed to have them in our lives.  So much more than we can say.

Just a few pictures of Hilton Head.  For the record, Steven was here, just not on this day that I took pictures. I am a failure at taking pictures when he isn't around.  

 Carter's first trip to the beach!




I didn't get to talk about everything I'd like to...but...that's the way it is sometimes.  I really do believe that joy is not complete until it is shared.  That's why we tell stories, take photographs of beautiful moments, write songs about feelings...but I am learning that sometimes joy has to just be treasured in our hearts.  We can't always take the time to take the picture without missing the beauty of the moment or capture the feeling in a story.  And that's okay.  Sometimes we live moments that are good without there being any record except what is in our hearts.  And my heart is full after this holiday season with my "village".  I have no idea what 2011 will bring, but I know that I have been unbelievably blessed in 2010.    I pray that Lord will bless and keep you in this new year, and that you will see Him more clearly and love Him better than you ever have before.  He is better than anything I've ever known.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Short update...

I really hope I'm able to write a better blog than this is going to be before Christmas....because if I don't you, the faithful reader, will end up having to read some monstrously long thing.  And no one wants that.  But, because I don't want to get tooooooooo behind....

Here are some bigger points that I will give further elaboration on...later.
Hopefully soon.


  • We spent last weekend in Alabama.  It was far, far, far, far too short, but sweet all at the same.  Time with our family was so special and fun, even if we did almost miss it when we blinked!
  • Kyle is here!  We love having Kyle at our house.  He's visiting this week while he is off for school.  I don't know if it's more that he needed to see Carter or needed to escape the snow.  Probably both!  I don't care, I'm just glad he's here!
  • Carter is having a TERRIBLE time with the reflux.  This is the first experience I've had where he just cries and cries and there is very little I can do to soothe him.  That's really frustrating and sad for both of us.  Luckily, we do both have Steven.  That's a pretty big blessing for us both.  Also, we have a great doctor who called in some Zantac for us.  Hopefully, that will kick in soon and we can kick out the kicking, grunting, waking nights, the crying afternoons and evenings, and the wrestling match feedings.  I hope so.  I sure miss my smiling, cooing, talking baby a lot!
  • Travis and Susanna are having a..............BOY!  We are so excited that the ultrasound showed a healthy, growing, little boy!  Carter looked really excited about his new playmate-to-be!  Yay for cousins!
Ok...that's the cliff notes version.  I just didn't want to get way behind!  Hopefully, I can write more...and perhaps a bit more creatively...:)  soon.  We'll see :)

I hope your Christmas festivities are as beautiful, enjoyable, and special as you could possibly imagine.  Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giggles


video
We figured out how to make Carter laugh on demand.  So our biceps are going to be killer.  He's getting heavy, and we love hearing that laugh!

On another note, we are all decorated for Christmas and have at least some presents wrapped.  Luckily, Carter doesn't know that I am wrapping his presents while he plays on his activity mat next to me.  Next year, this wrapping will be a whole new experience.  I love this season though.  I love the making cookies, present wrapping, family gathering, church activities, cute baby outfit wearing...This, I think, is going to be the best Christmas yet!




Carter has also found his feet.  And he loves to put them in the air to look at them.  He is getting so strong!  As you can see from the pictures, he is also figuring out how to control his hands so he can reach out and grab things.  It is so fun to see him grow and develop.  Not only is his body developing, but his little mind is growing too!  He has definite preferences now that include being talked to, (such a hardship for me, you know ;)) talking himself, (uhoh!) kicking, having his belly tickled, and playing, "Where's Carter?" with the famous "blanket over the baby" trick.  As you saw, he also really likes being up high.  Hope he follows his percentile and not his parents in terms of height.

They tell you that nothing can prepare you for the demands of childbirth and caring for a newborn.  That's true.  But nothing prepares you for that first little smile, laugh, and the way that little body feels curled up on your chest asleep either.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

But wait! There's (going to be) (EVEN) more!


The Castillo boys...at their finest.
L-R Greg, Steven, Rique, and the poor mother that tried to keep them all clean, fed, and behaving at the same time.  Whew.

Remember how I talked about how much fun it was to grow up with Travis....and how cool it was that we were close in age?  And remember how I talked about how much fun it was to grow up with cousins close in age too?

Well, Steven grew up with one brother ahead of him by two years (Greg) and another behind him by a year and 16 days (Rique).  They were a whirlwind of boy, swirling around their house making trouble and messes!  I mean, seriously, can you imagine?  They made mischief, completed dares, and told each other ridiculous lies about the powers of dog food.  They took up for each other, rode to school together, played in a band together, and shared clothes.  When they were 14, 12, and 11, they got a baby sister.  She was first their little princess, then the object of their "I wonder what will happen if we..." ideas, and then back to little sis they all take care of together (and who gives them the beat down in video games!).  Now this band of brothers are each other's dearest friends.  They all got married between December 2007 and July 2008, adding a group of sisters who have become sweet friends.  We've all learned together what it means to be a family unit made up of little individual families.  We've learned how to fuse all our different traditions into something that is our own.  We've learned how to join families, and we all travel to see each other because we love hanging out.

And now...in the spirit of continued closeness...Carter's getting another cousin in 2011!  

Greg and Morgan....pictured below:


are expecting a little one at the beginning of July!  We are so, so excited to have another little Castillo baby running around.  It will be so fun to have cousins for Carter to play with...and another brand new bundle to cuddle, rock, and kiss!

Yay for babies!  And yay for Greg and Morgan!  Please pray for Greg and Morgan as they prepare for this sweet one to join their family...and for Morgan as she walks through this pregnancy.  What a special Christmas!

PS: Travis and Susanna find out if their little one is a boy or a girl this Thursday!  Yay!  Except Travis says he isn't telling until Friday, when we are all supposed to watch the video of the ultrasound together.  Whatever.  I'm totally going to find a free kitten or some chocolate to coax the info out of Susanna early.  She can't resist chocolate and kittens.  No way.  And if she plays hard to get, I think a DVD of a Disney movie will send her over the edge.  She can't resist that!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Milestones

Well....we did it!  We ran a 5k...and yes, my pride remained intact.  We did, in fact, run the whole way.  I know that running three miles doesn't seem like much of an accomplishment to "real runners" (or people who are generally in good shape :) ), but it was a big deal to us.  When we started running 7 weeks ago, we couldn't run five minutes without seriously feeling like wheezing and stumbling.  And even more, two and a half months ago, an easy walk around the block wiped me out!  So...we were pretty proud.

Steven and me "post-race"
My goal had been to run the race in about 30 minutes.  When I gave that a trial run in our neighborhood last Monday, I ran it in 33 and absolutely couldn't do it any faster.  I think race day adrenaline and a flatter course than our neighborhood helped a lot!  I ran the race in 30:05!  I was so excited!  Steven and I will be signing up for another 5k in the next few months.  We can't commit the time or money to run a million races, but we want to run enough to keep us accountable and because it sure is fun to finish a race.  There's a good sense of completion and satisfaction in knowing that you met a goal!  It's also keeping our hearts healthy and helping us develop muscular strength and flexibility.  I sound like your elementary P.E. teacher, but those things really are important to me...so...I'll let you know when our next race will be!

Christmas is here!  I love this season.  I love the music, buying presents, family gatherings, yummy food, decorations, Steven having time off work....I love Christmas.  We have our tree up and decorated, as well as the few things we put around the rest of the house.  We don't do the outside....not at this point anyway.  Too much work and money...and just the inside makes me happy :)  I'm so excited about Carter's first Christmas.  I just really need to get started on Christmas shopping.  I've done a few little things, but I still have a lot to do.  I am usually all finished by now...ahhh...how some things have changed :)

Family Christmas picture :)

  Growing up, I received two ornaments every yea.  One from Mama and Daddy and one from Ma and Pa.  When I got married, I got to take them with me so that our first tree wouldn't be so bare.  (Mama tried to keep some, but I managed to wrangle them all...I think!)  We are continuing this tradition with Carter.  We bought Carter his first ornament:
Roll Tide!

And Mama and Daddy bought this precious one for him:




Mama and Daddy also always hung our baby shoes on the tree.  This year, I got to hang Carter's next to mine.  I love them!  It's so fun to continue traditions and to begin new ones of our own!

Carter's shoes on the left, mine on the right.

     Carter is developing so much everyday.  He is starting to cackle, and he talks all the time now!  You can see the little gears turning in his head all the time!  He's also starting to reach up and grab things that are danging above him.  He also likes to study.  Here, he was studying some pots and pans while Steven was putting away clean dishes.  He cried every time Steven closed the cabinet doors, so Steven finally just turned his Bumbo where he could watch them and left the doors open.  He sat like this for about five minutes before deciding this was no longer exciting :)


     In other news, Carter has graduated for four hour feedings.  Yes!  I know it's not a huge leap, but stretching out those feedings to four hours makes our days seem so much freer!  He is also sleeping pretty consistently from between 9 and 10 till 8.  What a champ!  We're still working on his naps, as the "forty-five minute Intruder" wakes him up everyday while he is still grouchy....but we're trying some things that I hope will help!  His reflux does seem to be slowly improving.  I mean, you should still be warned that he will most likely give your outfit a new touch when you hold him...but it's not like it was.  He's such a great baby...I am so grateful.  
     He went to the church nursery for the first time yesterday.  Steven and I put on our big kid britches and dropped him off.  Our church has an unbelievable nursery program.  I know he is safe, cared for, and loved there.  And...I want to be the kind of parent that doesn't cling so tightly to my child that he can't learn to be independent...and that starts now.  He needs to know that other people besides Steven and me are capable of taking care of him...and I need to know that too!  Still....I watched the screen for his number to pop up like a hawk!  It never did.  At the end of the service, one of the nursery workers was rocking him while he slept.  He had talked, giggled and eventually settled into her arms for a snuggly nap.  They both looked happy as they could be about the situation!  I had been able to enjoy the service, take notes, and really pay attention for the first time in months.  It was good for both of us.  
     One more little Carter tidbit before I go...mornings are just my favorite.  I've talked about this before.  Mornings with Carter are just the very best.  When I go in to wake him or pick him up, he is super grouchy.  I un-velcro his swaddle and his little arms pop up like springs and he stretches all while screwing his face into unhappy little faces.  It's precious.  He grumbles and groans no matter how many smiles I try to coax from him until he's had about five minutes worth of milk.  When I burp him then, it's all smiles and coos.  You've seen those shirts that say, "Don't stand between me and my coffee!"....I think Carter needs a onesie that exchanges the word coffee for milk!  It reminds me of Travis...who can survive about three minutes after waking before needing some form of breakfast.  We used to shake, roll, and yell in his ear to wake him.  Nothing worked except the word breakfast to get him moving.  I think a little of that gene traveled to sweet Carter!
     As our little family prepares for Christmas, I'll be sure to keep you in the loop about our fun happenings!   Enjoy this season!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On the Road

I love road trips.  I don't know if this stems from the many car rides we took to Alabama and back as a kid, the fun road ventures I took with friends in high school and college, or just something that was born in me...but I love them.  I love reading in the car, (or being read to...Mama used to read to us all the time while we rode...especially Anne of Green Gables books...mmmmm those are so good!), staring out the window, talking to the other passengers/driver, (whether they really enjoy that part or not, lol) eating in the car, the feeling of a good stretch when you get out to take a bathroom break...I just like it.  I really like taking road trips with Steven...we have some of the best conversations in the car.  Sometimes serious, fun, silly, or just catching up, I feel like we reconnect in the car when my OCD self can't multi-task and Steven's ADD self can't get catch something to look at out of the corner of his eye! :)

This Thanksgiving was Carter's very first road trip.  It was great!  He slept some on the way there, but also just spent a lot of time looking out the window and smiling and talking to us through his little mirror that reflects in the rearview mirror.  On the way back home, exhausted from all the bluster of Thanksgiving, he slept the entire way.  He really is such a good baby!  The trip was definitely slower, since we needed to stop every three hours to feed him...and by the time he eats, burps like a raucous old man, and gets changed, an hour has gone by.  On the way there, we needed to stop twice, stretching a six hour ride to an eight and a half hour journey.  But it was a good eight and a half hour journey.  26 and 40 were so pretty, with leaves blowing down from their trees and mountains stretching across the horizon.  Conversation was sweet, the road pretty, and the end of our journey met with sweet family.

As a side note, packing for an infant to go on a five day trip was crazy!  I overpacked a little, not wanting to get there and wish I had something, but not too much.  We used every bib and spit cloth I packed, had extra diapers and wipes, and just a few leftover outfits.  Luckily, there were no major packing mishaps!  Carter slept in his pack 'n' play...making me ever so grateful he is now in his own crib at night.  Though he has been sleeping through the night at home, he woke to feed at least once a night and usually once early in the morning while we were in Tennessee.  It was fine, but it's nice to sleep through the night again now that we are back home!

While we were in Nashville, we were treated to my sister-in-laws yummy cooking skills...including a huge spread of food for Thanksgiving Day.

 Carter's many faces :)
 Carter's first Thanksgiving...I am SO thankful for him!

Carter napping with Abuelo after stuffing their tummies!

We also got to visit the Opryland Hotel, renovated from recent flooding.  It was beautiful...and CROWDED!
 Beautiful, HUGE Christmas tree in the Opryland Hotel.
A little family picture at the hotel...that Carter wasn't quite tall enough to make!

We sadly forgot to take any family pictures, so our hosts remain unpictured :(...but we had so much fun while we were there.  Greg and Morgan have a beautiful, comfy home that is just right for family gatherings.  We felt so at home there....and loved visiting!

While we were there, we also got to visit my cousin, Allison, to watch the Alabama game.  We visited her husband's family's home outside of Nashville.  It was also a beautiful, hospitable place...which was good since the second half of the game was so disappointing.  

Allison and Carter on Iron Bowl Day!

Now that we are back home, we are trying desperately to get ready for the 5K on Saturday!  We didn't run at all last week because I forgot my running clothes :(, so I am hoping we can make up for it this week without overdoing it.  I don't think I am going to quite be able to make my initial time goal, but I do think I will be able to run at a steady pace the whole race, which is really the most important thing.  I am really excited about the run...and how much healthier Steven and I are getting while training for it!  I'll let you know how it goes.

So...goodbye November!  And welcome December!  So excited about putting up the tree and Christmas decorations tonight!  I love this season!

New pictures of Carter here!